Eight Division I teams at five universities in California are among more than 100 nationwide that have been penalized by the NCAA for poor academic performance, according to a report released last week.
One team, the men's basketball squad at CSU Northridge, received the toughest sanction issued by the NCAA this year: a ban on postseason competition. The team was among eight in the country to receive the sanction based on chronically poor academic performance.
"This penalty is obviously tough," Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto told the LA Times. "We're trying to work our way out of it."
Each year, Division I teams must calculate an "academic progress rate" based on the past four years' performance. The NCAA awards points for student athletes who meet academic eligibility standards and remain with the university.
Teams that score below 925 – out of 1,000 possible points – could lose scholarships. Teams that fall below 900 face tougher sanctions, beginning with a warning and escalating to practice and financial aid restriction, postseason competition bans and, ultimately, restricted membership in Division I.
A score of 925 roughly translates into a 60 percent NCAA graduation rate – which, unlike the federal graduation rate, gives colleges credit for transfer students and those who enroll mid-year.
At CSU Bakersfield, athletic director Jeff Konya attributed low scores for the men's golf and women's water polo teams to the small squad sizes, saying one academic setback can have a disproportionate effect on the four-year rate.
Konya said he hopes new men's basketball coach Rod Barnes will be able to help boost the Roadrunners' academic performance. He said one of Barnes' appealing qualities was that under his leadership at Georgia State University, the team's academic progress rate rose from 889 in 2006-07 to 946 in 2009-10.
"We're hopeful that by this new direction, we're going to see improvement," Konya said.
This year, 103 teams at 67 schools were sanctioned for poor academic performance, out of more than 6,400 teams in the division. In addition to the CSU Northridge basketball team, seven other teams in the country are banned from competing in the postseason this coming academic year.
Those include men's basketball teams at Chicago State University, Grambling State University, Southern University Baton Rouge, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe; as well as football teams at Idaho State, Jackson State and Southern universities.
The NCAA's news release on the new figures touted improvements in Division I's overall academic progress rate, which increased three points over last year to 970.
"We look to academic success and academic performance as a natural and automatic expectation of being a student-athlete," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in the release. "We need to keep working on that performance, just as a team works to improve its athletics performance, so their academics continue to rise as well."
Still, men's basketball and football continue to post the lowest rates of all sports.
Here's a look at the California teams penalized this year. The full database of scores is available at NCAA's website.
|NCAA penalizes Division I teams that fail to meet academic standards|
|San Diego State University||Baseball||Reduced scholarships||922|
|UC Riverside||Baseball||Reduced scholarships||923|
|Men's Basketball||Reduced scholarships and Warning - Below 900 score||895|
|CSU Bakersfield||Men's Basketball||Warning - Below 900 score||892|
|Men's Golf||Warning - Below 900 score||837|
|Women's Water Polo||Warning - Below 900 score||873|
|CSU Fullerton||Men's Basketball||Reduced scholarships||909|
|CSU Northridge||Men's Basketball||Postseason competition ban, financial aid restriction, practice time restriction||871|